Picking a yarn for knit gloves

These finely knit gloves look back to the 1940s and 50s when no elegant winter outfit was complete without coordinating accessories. The openwork rose lace motif worked on the back of the hand, and the flared contrast-edged cuff, give them a pretty and unique touch.

Handknit gloves are such a treat. And since you see your hands all the time, you get to admire your knit gloves! I have to admit that I do gaze lovingly at my hands when I wear handknit gloves. I sometimes do the same to my handknit sock-shod feet, but that's not as socially acceptable.

The gloves shown at left are the Openwork Gloves from Rowan designer Jennie Atkinson's new book A Handknit Romance. The vintage look is so attractive and feminine.

If I were to knit these gloves, I would first look to my stash to see which lace-weight yarn I have on hand. I like the yarn that the project calls for, but I know I don't have it in my stash, and I actually prefer a smoother yarn for gloves. The yarn in the pattern is an 80 percent baby suri alpaca/20 percent extra fine merino blend, which is yummy for sure, but a little fuzzy. I happen to have a 70 percent merino/30 percent silk blend that I would like to use instead, which brings me to the next topic, how to substitute yarns.

Here's some great information from Jennie Atkinson:

Choosing Yarn Substitutes

When planning a garment design, the type of yarn chosen makes all the difference to the way the garment looks. I often knit swatches in a variety of stitches to see what works best for that yarn. For a garment that needs to have some "give" or elasticity so that it fits well I would choose a springy pure wool. Whereas for a loose garment where drape is the most important factor, a yarn that has no elasticity but hangs well, like a bamboo yarn, is ideal.

There are so many different yarn types available now that it is impossible to generalize, but as a rough guide, wool, wool mixes, and sunthetic wool substitutes are the yarns that have most elasticity, and these are great for knitting plain and textured stitches and for fitted garments. Yarns that have no stretch are good for draped garments or knitting lace stitches.

When substituting yarns, always knit a swatch first in the chosen yarn, not only to check that it has the same gauge but also to check that the "feel" of the yarn is suitable for the design.

Gauge and Yarn Quantities

When substituting yarn it is best to find a replacement with exactly the same gauge/needle size as the suggested yarn, but you can usually change the needle size up or down by one or two sizes to give the right gauge without affecting the way the knitting handles. Be aware that even slight variations in the gauge will affect the final size.

You will also need to calculate how many balls of the substitute yarn are required based on the yardage per ball. Multiply the yardage of the yarn suggested in the pattern by the number of balls needed for your size. Then divide the result by the yardage given for a ball of your substitute yarn.

—from A Handknit Romance by Jennie Atkinson

If you're planning to knit your way through your stash this year like I am, this information should help you on your way.


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